Thinning, brittle hair? Check your hormones!

Luscious locks. Flowing tresses. Who doesn’t want to have a full head of shiny hair? Our culture certainly gives us the message that beautiful hair symbolizes youth and beauty.

However, particularly as we age, many of us find that the soft, full hair we may have taken for granted in our younger days starts to fade and becomes thinner and more brittle. These changes can happen to both men and women.

As You Age, So Does Your Hair

Of course, it makes sense that hair can be damaged as we age. Because hair grows so slowly (less than half an inch every month), the hair on your head may have experienced years of sun exposure and damage from the elements. It also is affected by hormonal changes in our bodies which play a role in both hair growth, texture, and those pesky grey hairs of course!

Searching For The Fountain Of Hair Youth

What’s the solution? The beauty industry tells us the secret to beautiful hair is finding the right “products.” And it’s definitely possible to spend hundreds of dollars trying to find the perfect match.

However, no matter how many shampoo reviews you read, you can only find so much hair magic in a bottle. In fact, many shampoos and other hair products can actually damage your hair because they contain harmful substances.

The truth is that beautiful hair starts from within. As a result, what we put into our bodies is far more important than what we put on our hair.

Laying A Foundation For Stronger, Fuller, Faster-Growing Hair

To fully understand the impact of lifestyle choices on your hair, it helps to know more about its composition – the main building blocks that give hair its strength and structure.

Keratin

Hair strands are composed of a protein called keratin (in fact, so are your nails). One of the primary components in keratin is choline, an essential nutrient with many roles in the body that is found in a variety of foods such as eggs, salmon and cauliflower.

Biotin

Vitamin B7 (also known as biotin) contributes to the formation of keratin. Because of this relationship, it’s not surprising that scientists have found that being deficient in biotin can lead to hair loss. In fact, one study found that supplementing with biotin helped slow hair loss in women with thinning hair, leading to fuller, shinier hair as well as smoother skin after 6 months.

The Gut Health Connection To Good Hair

Interestingly, scientists have also found that the amount of bad bacteria in our gut affects the formation of biotin. That means that beautiful hair isn’t necessarily as simple as making sure you have consumed enough biotin. Your digestion and absorption need to be working right too.

Factors that can positively influence the delicate balance of gut bacteria, and in turn improve biotin production, include managing your stress levels, keeping sugary snacks in check and ensuring your nutrition is balanced.

Top Tips For Healthy Hair:

Now that you have a clearer understanding of the factors behind healthy hair, how can you overcome the effects of aging and environmental damage? Check out these tips for a healthy head of hair.

1. Check your hormone levels.

Cortisol isn’t the only hormone that can impact your hair health. If you’re experiencing hair loss or changes to hair texture, you should check the levels of your other hormones as well.

For example, low levels of thyroid hormone can indicate a stressed-out thyroid. One of the thyroid’s “lesser” jobs is to regulate hair growth, however in times of stress the body will focus all of the thyroid’s energies on more important functions such as regulating the body’s temperature and metabolism. Hence thinning hair is one of many possible symptoms of lowered thyroid function.

Low estrogen, which may be a sign of perimenopause or other hormonal imbalances, can also lead to hair troubles. While slower growth of pubic and underarm hair might easily go unnoticed, an estrogen imbalance can mean that androgens have a stronger effect on hair follicles, leading to thinning hair on the head, and even rogue chin hairs.

These are just a few reasons why the best start to improving your hair’s texture and fullness begins with testing to see where your hormonal levels are and ensuring you are balanced.

2. Make sure you consume enough Biotin.

Good sources of biotin include:
            Liver
            Salmon
            Carrots
            Bananas
            Wheat Germ
            Whole Grains
            Chicken
            Nuts

(Bonus: Biotin will also strengthen your nails!)

3. Eat plenty of protein.

This may seem like a no-brainer, since hair is composed of protein. Keep in mind that your protein sources don’t have to be meat-based, since the protein found in plant sources are just as effective.

In addition to biotin, the amino acid cystine assists in the formation of keratin. Good sources of cystine include garlic, onions, broccoli, brussels sprouts, oats, wheat germ, sprouted lentils and eggs.

4. Watch your mineral intake.

One of the many roles of minerals in the body is growth, and iron and zinc in particular contribute to keratin formation which helps your hair to grow strong.

Zinc can also protect your hair from sun damage just as zinc oxide in sunscreens can protect your skin from sunburn, and zinc helps your body flush out excess insulin too. Good sources of zinc include shellfish, beans, and seeds.

5. Reduce your sugar consumption.

When you eat a lot of sugar, your blood sugar rises. In response, your body produces more of the hormone insulin and androgens such as testosterone, which have a shrinking effect on hair follicles. That means your hair could start growing finer and more brittle.

6. Don’t smoke.

Smoking increases the speed at which your body breaks down and excretes biotin, reducing the amount of biotin in your blood and leading to weaker hair and nail growth.

7. Avoid high-mercury foods.

Consumption of food with high levels of mercury has been linked to hair loss. Some kinds of tuna, swordfish and mackerel can all contain high levels of mercury.

8. Boost your intake of fruits and veggies.

To protect your hair, you want to reduce the damage that can be caused by free radicals. Those are compounds that can damage your cells, and they’re often created by environmental factors and the internal processes that can be triggered by stress.

Free radicals can lead to lifeless, gray hair. Antioxidants can fight free radicals and restore your hair’s shine. Fruits and vegetables can provide the key antioxidants for healthy hair: Vitamins A, C, and E.

9. Consider collagen supplements.

Choline, one of the building blocks of keratin, is found in collagen. Collagen can also strengthen the layer of your skin that contains hair follicles. (This layer of skin is called the dermis). With a stronger anchor point, hair is less likely to fall out.

10. Choose hair products carefully.

Many shampoos, conditioners, and styling products contain ingredients that can be hard on your hair and unhealthy for you. The reality is that many of them don’t address hair problems where they originate – in the protein structure of the hair itself. Instead, they “gloss” over any problems with superficial coverings. Plus, many substances used in hair products can be absorbed by your skin, and have been linked to cancer. In addition, many are harmful to the environment. So avoid products with sulfates, parabens, and silicones. Your hair will thank you!

If you’re experiencing issues with your hair, it may be time to test your hormones and make sure your gut health is supporting your hair goals not impeding them!

GIve our office a call we are happy to help.

References:

https://academic.oup.com/jnci/article/109/9/djx202/4102324
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4428712/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3509882/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27538002
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4201279/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4174066/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=28813664
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3509882/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4428712/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=27554239

Infertility Rates are Rising- What You Need to Know

Fertility. It’s something we often take for granted when we’re planning our lives. In fact, many women spend a lot of money and effort in preventing pregnancy until the timing is right for conception. However, even when the timing is right, our bodies don’t always cooperate. Recent years have seen a dramatic increase in infertility. One study found infertility rates increased from 5.4 percent in 1984 to 15.7 percent in 2011, a substantial increase in a short period of time.

An Integrative Approach To Fertility

What makes infertility particularly frustrating is that it’s often hard to determine a cause when a couple has difficulty conceiving. Causes of infertility are often multifactorial, and many elements of a couple’s health need to be considered to understand the potential cause(s) in order to best optimize their ability to conceive. That’s why an integrative approach, taking into account lifestyle, genetics, stress levels, and overall health is best if you’re experiencing fertility issues.

Timing is important because so many different elements need to be considered – and timing is a key component, both in terms of your chronological age and the timing of conception. In general, a couple is considered infertile if they’ve been trying for a year to conceive without success. However, it’s often a good idea to start taking some proactive steps to improve your fertility as soon as you have decided you want to conceive.

Factors That Can Affect Your Fertility:

What’s contributing to the increase in infertility? Medical scientists can’t pinpoint one specific cause, but many lifestyle factors can play a role. Some things that can influence fertility include:

Hormone levels

Many hormones work in tandem to create the optimum conditions for conception, including follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), estradiol, luteinizing hormone (LH), and progesterone. Perhaps not surprisingly, even a tiny variation in your hormone balance can affect your fertility.

That’s why the first step to any fertility treatment is often testing hormone levels. Knowing how your hormones are working together gives your healthcare practitioner an excellent starting point.

Genetic history

If you have a relative who had difficulty conceiving, you may also be at risk for fertility issues. Recent research has found genetic components to some chromosomal problems.

Your Vital Stats

Age & Fertility

It’s often frustrating for women to realize that age is one of the biggest factors that can contribute to infertility. After all, for many women, it can feel like a narrow window between being financially and emotionally ready to have a baby and being the right age to conceive.

Of course, we all see many examples of women well into their 40s (and beyond) having babies. And it’s definitely possible. However after 35, the odds of getting pregnant decrease at a faster rate. Simply put, we are born with a set number of eggs in our ovaries. As we grow older our risk for other factors that impact fertility increase.

Still, it’s important not to overstate the decline women experience in their 30s. Consider these stats:

  • Percentage of 27-to-34-year-old women who conceive after a year of having sex at least twice a week = 86 percent
  • Percentage of 35-to-39-year-old women who conceive after a year of having sex at least twice a week = 82 percent

So through our 30s, the odds of conception doesn’t decline very dramatically. However, fertility rates do drop faster after 40, so about 30 percent of women between 40 and 44 will experience infertility.

Weight & Fertility

In addition, your weight can impact your fertility. That’s because excess weight can affect your hormone levels and lead to irregular ovulation. The good news is that studies have found that losing just small amount of weight can make a difference.

Somewhat paradoxically, women who are underweight (with a BMI of less than 18.5) can experience similar problems because not having enough body fat can also impact your hormone production. However, it’s not just the number of your BMI. Body composition (the amount of body fat and lean muscle) and activity levels also play a role.

Of course, it takes two people to conceive. Interestingly, scientific studies have found a clear link between male obesity and low sperm levels. In fact, men whose BMI places them in the obese category have 60 percent less seminal fluid than men of normal weight. That’s a pretty significant difference. Underweight men also have lower amounts of seminal fluid, so it’s all about having the right balance — as with many aspects of your fertility.

Stress Levels

Can stress affect your infertility? The answer often is yes. For some women, this is an added source of frustration. After all, dealing with infertility is stressful in itself. However, from an evolutionary perspective, it makes sense. Your body might realize that when you’re stressed, you need to conserve energy. In our busy modern life, this process can continue. When you’re stressed, your adrenal glands produce more of the “stress hormones” adrenaline and cortisol as well as elevates prolactin. Both of which can suppress ovulation, not to mention weaken your libido (which is definitely necessary for conception!)

Thyroid Health

Another hormonal issue that can affect ovulation is having low levels of thyroid hormone, a condition called hypothyroidism. Also paradoxically, hyperthyroidism, or high levels of thyroid hormone, can affect ovulation. (You’re probably starting to understand why achieving the right hormone balance is so important!) Thyroid hormone plays a big role in letting your ovaries know when to ovulate, so when your thyroid hormone levels are out of whack, ovulation can be too.

Chemical Exposure

Exposure to certain chemicals – in your foods, your clothing, your cleaning products, beauty care and elsewhere – has been shown to impact fertility levels for both men and women. And you don’t have to work with toxic substances to experience the effects. Even a fairly healthy standard Western diet can introduce pesticides that have negative impacts on our reproductive systems. Removing the toxins from your system requires professional guidance but well worth it for improving your overall picture of health.

How You Can Take Charge Of Your Fertility

As we can see from the list above, treating infertility can be complex. Is there anything you can do on your own to improve your fertility? The most important thing is to act now if you have concerns. Don’t forget: Conception requires careful timing, so you do want to address any issues right away. Here are some steps that can help with fertility issues.

1. Visit your Naturopathic Doctor that is trained in fertility and women’s health issues.

Proper testing to see what’s really going on with your whole body will give us a better picture. Treating infertility requires addressing your overall health, not just your reproductive system. While your hormones play a key role so do many other factors. We can work together to help prepare your body for conception and eliminate the stress of wondering if there is more you should be doing and how to start!

2. Manage your stress levels.

We understand that this is easier said than done, especially when you’re worrying about fertility. (It’s always a bit of a vicious cycle if you start to get stressed about having to relax!) Meditation is a good way to consciously address your emotional concerns.

3. Improve your diet.

One recent study found that women who ate a lot of fruits and vegetables with high pesticide levels were less likely to conceive. So choose organic produce when possible, or opt for produce that doesn’t typically have as much pesticide exposure (think thick skin that protects the fruit like avocados or oranges).

In addition, certain foods have been associated with higher fertility levels. Your Naturopathic Doctor can help you determine the best diet for your needs. In general, you want to ensure you’re getting adequate levels of folate, Omegas, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin D.

4. Limit toxic exposure.

Both males and females should think about the chemicals they’re exposed every day when they’re trying to conceive. In addition to possible pesticides on produce, frequent exposure to x-rays, radiation, cigarette smoke, alcohol but also toxins in the home and in products you use on your body everyday can all impact infertility. In addition, workplace hazards like exposure to lead and cadmium can all upset the hormonal balance required for peak fertility.

5. Consider Preconception Counselling.

Please visit our preconception page at http://wellness-institute.ca/infertility-treatments.aspx for more information.

Next Steps

If you’re concerned about your fertility, give us a call. Together we can dive deeper and see where your issues are and put together a clear treatment program. Fertility is a common issue. Just know that you are not alone and that we successfully treat many men and women with fertility issues at our clinic.

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3279129/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3885174/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6016043/
Pollutants Linked to Lower Fertility in Both Men and Women
https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/05/27/meditation-fertility_n_5256027.html
https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/pesticides-produce-fertility-women/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31035310

Environmental Pollution in the Home: Everyday Things May be Harming Your Health

Is your home affecting your health? If you avoid obvious pollutants like cigarette smoke, you may be pretty certain your home is not toxic. And if you clean regularly, you might even be slightly offended by the suggestion! However, indoor pollutants are much more common than many people realize. The sources of many pollutants are everyday objects and products we don’t consider harmful.

The media devotes a lot of attention to outdoor pollution (and it’s a valid health concern). However, indoor air pollution is a growing concern, in part because we spend about 90 percent of our time inside. According to emerging research, including a landmark United Nations study, many commonly used chemicals within the home can act as endocrine disruptors when we’re exposed to them.

What’s An Endocrine Disruptor?

Simply put, your endocrine system controls various functions in your body by releasing hormones. It controls how much of each hormone is released based on intricate feedback loops. Certain environmental pollutants have been found to disturb this process.

The result? Imbalances in your hormonal system. When taken to the extreme, these imbalances can put us on the road to disease such as breast, thyroid and prostate cancer, and disruptive conditions like ADHD.

Common Environmental Pollutants In The Home

Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to recognize an environmental pollutant. In fact, some products we identify as “healthy” can be harmful.

Take a look at this list of possible sources of indoor pollution:

1. Cleaning products

Keeping a clean home has long been recognized as an important step in maintaining good health. However, many common cleaning products contain carcinogens such as methylene chloride, which has been linked to increased breast cancer rates.

One thing to keep in mind with cleaning products is that compounds can linger in the air long after the smell has disappeared. For example, molecules in aerosol sprays can be absorbed by dust. That can lead to respiratory irritation.

In addition, these chemicals can react with other compounds in the air, such as ozone and create “secondary emissions” which can be even more harmful.

2. Nonstick cookware

The same chemicals that make nonstick cookware so convenient can also harm your health. Compounds found in materials such as Teflon can contribute to certain cancers and even high cholesterol.

3. Air fresheners

A quick spray of air freshener can make our homes smell fresh and clean. However, the effects on our bodies undermines the pretty scents. When it comes to scented products, it’s often difficult to obtain a complete list of all of the chemicals they contain, but many air fresheners do contain phthalates, which have been linked to hormonal problems, particularly in males.

4. Antibacterial products

Using antibacterial products might seem like a good step towards a healthier home, but studies have found that many commonly used substances in antibacterial products, such as triclosan, can impact our reproductive hormones. As well, overuse has been linked to an increase in allergies for children.

In addition, overuse of antibacterial products is leading to an increase in drug-resistant bacteria.

5. Water

Government regulations are supposed to keep our drinking water safe from contaminants. However, growing evidence shows that our water supplies contain small amounts of hormones, particularly estrogen. Even these small amounts can disrupt our natural hormonal balance over long periods.

6. Plastics

Plastic containers and water bottles might make life more convenient, but in the long run, they’re not the best choices. Many containers and cans contain BPA, or other xenoestrogens. (In fact, many items marked as “BPA free” contain compounds which may be just as harmful.)

Xenoestrogens are endocrine disruptors which specifically mimic the effects of estrogen. Overexposure can lead to weight gain, mood swings, and other symptoms of estrogen dominance.

7. Scented bathing and personal care products.

Did you know that the chemicals that give scented products their distinct smells aren’t regulated? And that 95 percent of those scents originate in petroleum byproducts?

It’s easy to feel a bit concerned when you read a list like the one above! After all, we want a clean home and to use the most convenient products possible. Fortunately, a few small changes can reduce environmental pollution in your home.

How To reduce Environmental Pollution In The Home (AKA Give Your Home A Detox)

1. Don’t try to “mask” unpleasant scents.

Instead of spraying air freshener, try removing the source of the bad odor – wash the dirty clothes (without scented fabric softener!), change the kitty litter. If you need extra ammunition against odors, baking soda is a natural air freshener. A HEPA air filter can also clean air odors right at the source.

For a natural scent, try boiling cinnamon sticks or vanilla pods on the stovetop.

2. Choose cleaning products carefully.

Be aware of “greenwashing” which is the practice of making products appear more eco-friendly than they actually are. The Environmental Working Group has a searchable database of more than 2,500 products.

As well, vinegar, baking soda, and plain hot water can be surprisingly effective cleaners, so doing a bit of research on natural options can pay off.

3. Avoid aerosols.

Using natural air fresheners that rely on essential oils, or even simmering some lemon slices and a few cloves in a pan, will do the trick just as well and without the side effects.

4. Think about the long-term effects of your purchases.

A plastic container might be the cheapest option to store your leftovers, but pause and take a minute to consider the possible impact on your health (and the environment for that matter). Sometimes investing a bit more money is the best choice in the long run. Plus, a stainless steel water bottle, or a glass or ceramic food container should last you much longer.

5. Be careful with plastics.

If you have to use a plastic container, don’t heat it in the microwave. That can cause more xenoestrogens to be released into your food.

6. Consider your water source.

If you want to avoid tap water, consider using a filtration system. (It’s best to avoid bottled water, which is often not much better than tap water and has the added risk of contamination from plastic bottles.) However, the water industry is filled with false claims, and prices can be steep. We can review your options in the office to make sure you make the best choice for your needs.

Of course, everyone is different and we all have unique health concerns and personal goals. If you’d like to learn more about environmental toxins and how you can reduce your risks, give our office a call. Additionally if you are suffering from health issues you can’t seem to figure out the cause of, it could be related to toxins. We can help!

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30953899
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20976153
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110824091537.htm
http://www.immuneweb.org/articles/perfume.html
https://www.epa.gov/pfas/basic-information-pfas
https://www.ewg.org/enviroblog/2011/09/your-best-air-freshener-isnt-air-freshener
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4243727/
https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-12/documents/lenehan-hormones_in_water_using_spe_and_lc-ms.pdf
https://news.un.org/en/story/2013/02/432272-un-report-examines-link-between-hormone-disrupting-chemicals-and-health
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18942551

Improve Your Sex Life At Any Age

Let’s talk about sex.

Is your sex life not what you thought it would be? Does the thought alone make you tired? Many people find their interest in lovemaking naturally drops with age. And the stress of daily life is enough to put anyone in a rut in the bedroom at times. Changing bodies can mean self-confidence takes a knock, not to mention that for women, those changes can sometimes make sex painful. Yikes! Who wants to willingly do something that causes pain?

So, let’s have a real conversation. After all, communication is the key to good relationships and good sex at any age. And it’s important not to overlook the vital role sex can play in our lives. That’s partly because a healthy sex life can improve your health, crazy but true – good sex is associated with a longer life, better sleep, and a lower risk of depression, to name just a few benefits.

Here are some steps you can take to improve your sex life:

1. Start by talking to your naturopathic doctor

There are a number of medical issues that can affect your interest in sex. And while they are fairly common, they are not ideal and deserve some attention.

Both depression and thyroid problems can reduce your interest in sex, but to compound the issue, many of the medications used to treat these conditions can have a dampening effect on libido.

In addition, you might want to get your hormone levels checked. As we get older, our androgens (testosterone being a key player here), starts to decline. One of the roles androgens play is to rev up our libido, so this process can have a serious impact on desire. And the drop in estrogen levels that accompanies perimenopause can affect your libido too.

Shifting hormones can affect your sex life in other ways. For example, lower estrogen levels can sometimes lead to so-called “vaginal atrophy”, which is characterized by:

  • Vaginal dryness, even during daily life activities
  • Reduced lubrication during intercourse
  • Thinning vaginal tissue, leading to pain during intercourse
  • Urinary incontinence, which can make women self-conscious

Other physical changes caused by declining hormones can also reduce your sexual desire. For example, some women gain weight during perimenopause, which reduces their self-confidence. Others find they’re simply too tired to think about sex. And some are just too hot – not hot in a “sexy” way, but so troubled by hot flashes that they can’t imagine having another warm body near them.

Sexual desire can require a careful balance of hormones to maintain. You may have taken this for granted when you were younger, but changes are a normal part of your life cycle. Fortunately, help is available. There are many ways to treat the effects changing hormones can have on sex, from vaginal lubricants to hormone replacement therapy and supplements. Your healthcare practitioner can help you find what works for you. So, don’t be embarrassed to talk about a change in your libido!

2. Focus on the positive and be in the moment

Yes, your body changes with age. However, it’s time to let go of any negative feelings you have about those changes. Inhibitions and problems with self-confidence are a sure way to lose interest in your sexual self. Try to accept the changes you’ve experienced. Be honest with your partner about your feelings (they may have similar thoughts about themselves).

Focus on the good things you’ve acquired with age. You may not have the body you once had, but you now have the experience to know what you want and what turns you on. In the end, self-confidence and communication are more attractive than a perfect body. Think about who are you are now and what you want.

3. Look beyond the bedroom

Many people lose interest in sex when they’re stressed. For women in particular, emotions that originate far away from the bedroom can influence their sex life. For example, many women are more likely to experience physical pain with intercourse if they’re experiencing tensions with their partner. In other words, your emotions can play as much of a role as your physical health in your sexual pleasure.

Talking about your relationship before a sexual encounter can help prevent those other problems from spilling over into your sexual relationship. If you’re experiencing relationship troubles, consider counseling. Your healthcare provider can provide advice on the next steps if you feel this is something you could benefit from.

What else can you do outside the bedroom to improve your sex life? Exercise is an excellent start. Even light exercise has been proven to improve sexual function. Not only can exercise improve your confidence, it lowers your levels of the stress hormone cortisol and raises your endorphin levels. Strength training, pilates, yoga, and cardio exercise have all been shown to improve women’s sex lives. So, do something that makes you feel powerful and confident.

4. Make the time

Unfortunately, the physical changes we experience with age often happen at a busy time for most women. Whether you’re pulled away from romance by work, family, or just the pressures of modern life, it can be hard to find time to address sexual problems. It can even be difficult to put time aside that prioritizes your relationship.

It’s important to make the time to talk to your partner about sexual concerns. Even something as simple as vowing to go to bed at the same time a few times a week can help you rediscover each other. In addition, many couples find that their sex lives improve if they find time to do fun things together other than sex.

Sex matters. If you’re experiencing a less than amazing sex life, don’t hesitate to call the office. Testing and treatment for hormone imbalances can restore your libido. And talking about concerns with an open-minded listener is a great way to start improving your sex life. Sex can become even better with age!

References:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15889125
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30699876
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2671314/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5963213/

Happiness Checklist: Are You as Happy as You Want to Be?

Are you happy?

It might be a simple question, but for many people, happiness feels like an impossible goal to reach. In fact, studies show that only about one in three people consistently identify as “happy.”

If that seems a bit depressing, rest easy. The steps to living a happier life are easier than you think. And no, those steps don’t involve winning the lottery. Believe it or not, most lottery winners have the same level of happiness they had before hitting the jackpot. Researchers call this the “hedonic treadmill” in which we repeatedly adjust to a base level of happiness even if our external circumstances change. Crazy right?!

Happiness Comes From Within

The simple truth is that living a happier life starts from within. Becoming happier involves a change in our internal circumstances. That may sound a bit far fetched, but the science of happiness has found consistent patterns in people who live their lives with joy.

And there’s a lot of motivation to join those happy people. In addition to making our days more pleasurable, happiness offers many health benefits, including:

  • A lower heart rate and blood pressure
  • A stronger immune system
  • Lower levels of the “stress hormone” cortisol
  • A better response to pain

The Happiness Checklist:

Take a look at this happiness checklist to see the areas of your own life that could provide a happiness boost.

Is your gut happy?

When we say happiness starts from within, we mean it literally. More research is finding that our gut bacteria has a profound influence on our moods. Researchers call this dynamic the “gut-brain-axis.” In simple terms, when our gut is inflamed, we can experience increased levels of anxiety and depression. That’s because your gut contains microbes that produce substances that control your mood – serotonin is a good example of a substance that is produced in your gut. In addition, your gut and your brain are connected by a complex network of nerves. The Vagus nerve continuously mediates from the gut to the brain and neurotransmitters (such as serotonin) produced in the intestines control the behaviour of our Gut and flood our Brain. Colonic irrigation has been shown to stimulate gut serotonin and directly affect the Vagus nerve. This undoubtedly accounts for the fact that colonic irrigation generally leaves someone feeling peaceful, uplifted and more clear headed.

Some dietary changes can improve your gut health and your mood. Focus on high-fiber whole foods, foods with plenty of Omega-3 fats, and fermented foods. (Fermented foods can positively influence your brain activity!)

Are you around other happy people?

You really can catch a good mood. One study found that happiness can go viral. In other words, being around people who are upbeat and feel good about their lives can impact your own happiness levels, The study didn’t just consider the impact of the moods in your immediate family, but also your neighbours. And being around a happy person can quickly multiply since your own increased happiness can influence those around you. The whole process is not unlike a cold – but much better!

Do you get a regular dose of Vitamin N (for nature)?

Spending time in natural environments boosts happiness levels in several ways. Interestingly, this effect has been shown to be stronger in women than men, and stronger in older adults than their younger counterparts.

Are you balancing movement and rest?

You probably know that exercise releases feel-good endorphins that improve your mood. However, you may not realize that you don’t have to make a big commitment to fitness in order to feel the impact of movement. In fact, endorphins can kick in quickly. One study found that it only takes 20 minutes of walking outside to experience a boost in your mood.

It’s important to note that rest is just as important as exercise. Sleep’s effect on our brain helps us to focus on the positive, and being sleep-deprived makes us more sensitive to negative emotions. In another study, researchers found that people who don’t get enough sleep recall unpleasant memories much more quickly than people getting enough sleep.

Do you help others?

Acts of kindness are another way that happiness spreads. In other words, by making others happy, you can feel happier. Doing something nice for someone else, whether it’s donating to charity, volunteering your time, or simply holding the door for an older person, makes us feel better about ourselves. And if you think you’re too busy or too stressed to donate your time, consider this: One study found that 78 percent of people who volunteer say it lowers their stress levels. And in another study, people felt happier after buying something for someone else than they did after treating themselves!

Can you forgive?

Forgiving others may ultimately be a kindness to yourself. By forgiveness, we don’t necessarily mean letting bad behavior slide or turning into a pushover. Instead, focus on letting go of resentment and anger. Those negative emotions are not helping you, and often can keep you stuck in the past instead of moving forward. And studies show that a more forgiving attitude can lead to multiple physical and emotional benefits.

Are you grateful?

Being grateful for what we have also increases happiness levels. It makes perfect sense if you think about it. For example, if you keep a gratitude journal, you will look for things you’re grateful for to record in it throughout the course of your day. Over time, you’ll find yourself focusing on the positive.

How did you do? Are you interested in improving your happiness levels? As you can see, living life happily requires a holistic approach. If you’d like to work together for a happier, more fulfilling life, give us a call and let’s do this together. Science and nature are a powerful combination!

References:
https://www.unitedhealthgroup.com/content/dam/UHG/PDF/2013/UNH-Health-Volunteering-Study.pdf
https://www.annelisemiller.com/education/blog-articles/23-effects-of-colonics-on-gut-flora1
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161005102254.htm
https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Safaria_Triantoro/publication/275025845_Forgivness_Gratitude_and_Happiness_among_College_Students/links/552f3cf00cf2acd38cbbf270.pdf
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5641835/
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0197458005002769\
https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=97848789https://www.bakadesuyo.com/2011/04/how-to-quickly-and-easiy-feel-happier-and-mor/#ixzz2b36XGs00
https://my.happify.com/hd/forgiving-others-is-the-best-thing-you-can-do-for-yourself/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3839572/

Is Insulin Resistance Slowing Your Weight Loss?





You do everything “right.” Somehow, however, those stubborn extra pounds won’t leave. And worse, they seem to have shifted to your midsection. What happened to your shape?

You can be eating healthy and still struggle with weight.

For women, it’s easy to blame slowing weight loss on the hormonal shifts that come with age, but these changes are not necessarily due to menopause. Instead, insulin resistance could be the cause.

How Does Insulin Affect Your Weight?

Let’s start by looking at the role insulin plays in the body. Insulin is a hormone produced by your pancreas which helps your body to use glucose (sugar) from your food by converting it to energy. A healthy insulin level goes up after a meal, and goes down when your blood sugar drops. The natural fluctuation of insulin is what keeps your blood sugar in a healthy balance.

When your body’s cells are no longer able to respond to insulin properly, they become “insulin resistant”, your blood sugar levels rise higher than they should even if your pancreas is producing a lot of insulin.

Excessively high blood sugar has many harmful effects, causing damage throughout the body. So your body has a back-up plan to protect itself: it stores the extra energy by converting it to fat, often around your midsection.

This is why high blood sugar and high insulin levels make it harder to lose weight.

More Than Just a Spare Tire – Insulin’s Many Roles

It’s important to note that insulin plays a role in many body functions, so insulin resistance can affect other facets of your health in addition to giving you a spare tire.
In fact, up to 50 percent of people who are insulin resistant go on to develop life-changing diabetes or prediabetes. And insulin resistance has been linked to the development of several types of cancer, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

At the hormone level, insulin is an intricate part of many systems in the body and can affect the performance of your other hormones. For example, high insulin levels can magnify menopausal symptoms. For women who are struggling to manage hot flashes, mood changes or other symptoms, being insulin resistant can make it even harder to regain control of their hormones.

How Do You Know If You’re Insulin Resistant?

Despite its widespread effects, insulin resistance can be difficult to diagnose. In fact, many people don’t experience any symptoms until they develop prediabetes or diabetes. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms below, your best first step should be to talk to your healthcare provider.

● Velvety dark patches of skin in your groin, neck, or armpits (a condition called acanthosis nigricans)
● Abnormal fatigue
● Cravings for sweet or salty food
● Increased hunger and thirst
● High waist-to-hip ratio (if you’re female, measure your waist and hips, then divide the number you measured for your waist by your hip measurement. If the result is higher than 0.8, your ratio is on the higher end. For men, a result greater than 1.0 is concerning.)

The Main Risk Factors (Reasons) For Insulin Resistance

Our bodies need carbohydrates. However, consuming more carbohydrates than your body can manage, can contribute to insulin resistance.

Other risk factors include:

● Excess weight
● Genetics (Some people who develop insulin resistance don’t have other risk factors. For these people, genetics are thought to be the primary factor.)
● Inactivity
● Not getting enough sleep
● Medications, including antidepressants and steroids
● Certain medical conditions, including

○ Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
○ A history of gestational diabetes
○ Hypertension

How Can you Improve Insulin Resistance Naturally?

The good news is that lifestyle changes can dramatically improve the balance of insulin in your body, and also have a good impact on other hormones – particularly the hormones that cause many menopausal symptoms.

1. Take a close look at your diet.

If you are struggling with balancing insulin and blood sugar, you should aim to eliminate simple carbohydrates from your diet as much as possible. That means no sugar, white flour, or sweet drinks. Try to eliminate or at least limit alcohol as well.

An added bonus of cutting back on sweets and starchy foods is weight loss. Having too much body fat, especially around your middle, can lead to insulin resistance. Of course, this creates a vicious cycle, since as we discussed insulin resistance makes it harder to lose weight. It is important to make healthy diet changes though, as one study found that losing just five to seven percent of your body weight can improve insulin resistance.

However, don’t restrict calories too aggressively. You don’t want to stress your body, which can raise your levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. High cortisol levels can wreak havoc on your insulin and blood sugar balance. So focus on getting your energy from whole foods without starving yourself.

2. Reduce stress.

This is always easier said than done, but it’s important to keep your cortisol levels balanced. We can work together to find a stress-reduction plan that works for you.

3. Get enough sleep.

Even one night of bad sleep can negatively affect your insulin levels.

4. Get some exercise.

Many studies have linked physical activity and improved insulin levels. There’s no need to feel overwhelmed though, even moderate levels of daily activity can help. The key is avoid long periods of being extremely sedentary.

In fact, especially for middle-aged women, exercise that is too intense can raise cortisol levels, which in turn, can raise insulin levels, so getting creative with your exercise becomes more important as you get older. In addition to increasing moderate exercise, aim to increase your other daily movements. For example, park a bit further away, do the dishes by hand at the end of the evening, or even just stretch for a few minutes at home. Even little bits of activity can add up.

5. Stop smoking.

You can add “insulin resistance” to the long list of reasons not to smoke. This is another step that sounds easier than it often turns out to be. If you smoke, you don’t have have to give it up alone. We’re here to help!

6. Supplements

Certain supplements can help as well, but making sure that you’re taking the right ones which are a good fit for you is best discussed with your Naturopathic Doctor.

As you can see from the list above, our bodies are very intricate, and when something goes amiss in one area, the effects can be felt in many other areas. This dynamic is particularly true when it comes to middle-aged women and hormones. Although insulin resistance may not always have obvious symptoms, addressing your insulin levels will help many areas of your wellbeing.

If you’re wondering about your insulin levels, how your blood sugar is responding, and what it may be doing to your weight loss efforts, give us a call! 416-234-1888.

References:
https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes/prediabetes-insulin-resistance#resistance
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2551669/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20371664
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2895000/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3501863/”>

What Does Your Poop Say About Your Health?

Let’s chat about your bowel movements.

Did you just cringe a bit? Let’s face it, poop isn’t anybody’s favourite topic. Nonetheless, our bowel movements hold valuable clues to our overall health. But these signs are often ignored because most of us are a bit uncomfortable talking about them – even to our healthcare providers.

Your Appointment is a Judgement-Free Zone

Keep in mind that your healthcare practitioner will not be shocked or uncomfortable if you talk about your poop. In fact, that’s part of our job! We want to really get to the bottom of your health issues (no pun intended), and sometimes that means talking about the “unmentionable” topics. So, if you have a concern, please don’t hesitate to bring it up.

Your Poop is a Reflection of Your Health

The appearance and smell of your poop is a direct reflection of your overall health as well as any inflammation your gut is experiencing, as your digestive system connects intricately with your nervous system and detox pathways. Changes in your bowel habits can indicate changes in other parts of your body – from excess stress, to liver problems, to cancers.

The good news is that we don’t have to go into great detail describing the various types of bowel movements and what they signify. There’s already a chart that shows various problems and what to look for called the Bristol Stool Chart (http://cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs-wm/46082.pdf) after the hospital that developed it in 1997.

What The Bristol Stool Chart Looks At
● Smell
● Colour
● Frequency
● Ease
● Completion
● Red flags

What The Bristol Stool Chart Means for You

To summarize the Bristol Stool Chart, your stools should be having a daily event that is well-formed medium brown and not too smelly. If you see blood or mucus, or if you feel that anything about your stool doesn’t seem ideal, you should talk to your healthcare practitioner to address or rule out any issues requiring medical help.

How to Improve Your Bowel Movements

If you’ve ruled out a medical condition, but still feel that things are not moving quite like they should be, a few simple steps can improve your bowel movements.

1. Pay attention to your diet.

Fiber helps keeps things moving by adding some bulk to your stool – think seeds, whole grains, beans, fresh fruits and vegetables. If you’re not used to a high-fiber diet, increase your fiber intake slowly to avoid upsetting your stomach, and always make sure to up your water intake alongside extra fiber. In addition, make sure you’re eating enough healthy fats from sources such as avocados, nuts, and olive oil.

Pay close attention to how particular foods affect your digestion. If you experience diarrhea or constipation, try keeping a diary of what you eat, and the symptoms you experience. We can help you set up an effective tracking system to monitor your diet if you need a little help with that.

2. Choose medication carefully.

Many medications can cause constipation, so it is important to be aware and adjust your diet accordingly. Avoid laxative medications as much as possible, as your body quickly becomes dependent on them, and some evidence links their use to colorectal cancer. Talk with your Naturopathic Doctor about natural solutions to constipation cause by medications if diet alone isn’t enough.

3. Stay hydrated.

Aim for the proverbial eight cups of water a day. It’s particularly important to get adequate water if you’ve recently increased your fiber intake. Not only are our stools 75 percent water, but the bowel muscles need plenty of hydration to work their best.

4. Increase your movement.

Exercise stimulates your digestion. Studies suggest that digestion is better if you exercise regularly and, if possible, at the same time of the day.

In fact, sitting for too long overall can lead to constipation regardless of other exercise, another argument for working at a standing desk for part of the day. And, on a similar note, pay attention to how your body moves. Some yoga poses are designed to assist with digestion.

5. Develop a routine and don’t fight the urge.

If you feel like you gotta go, don’t ignore that feeling! Fighting the urge to poop can lead to constipation. Setting aside a specific time of the day can help you stay regular.

6. Change positions.

As well, consider the way you sit on the toilet. Over the course of history, toilets themselves are a pretty recent invention. That means that we evolved pooping from a squatting position. Many people find that bringing their feet up onto a stool can help bring them into a squatting position which makes bowel movements easier. Check out the Squatty potty for more info on aids for better positioning.

7. Talk openly.

Don’t hesitate to come into the office and have an open talk if you have any concerns or questions about your bowel movements. Your stool can be a good indicator that your body has something going on that needs attention, and it’s always better to bring up a concern than to worry about it!

References:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25223576
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/may/18/truth-about-poo-doing-it-wrong-giulia-enders-squatting
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15043514

B Vitamins: Are You Getting Enough?

B vitamins are sometimes called the energy vitamins, since they help put a spring in your step and play an important role in maintaining your energy levels. In fact, they play such a key role that perhaps they should also be called the “Brisk, Bouncy, and Bright” vitamins. In actuality, there are eight different kinds of B vitamins, and each one has its own distinct job.

How do B Vitamins Help?

These vitamins work as a carefully orchestrated team. Together they play an important role in:
● Regulating moods
● Reducing stress
● Improving cognitive performance
● Contributing to cardiovascular health
● Lowering blood pressure

Protecting and Absorbing Your B Vitamins

A healthy diet should provide adequate amounts of each B vitamin. However, because they’re water-soluble vitamins, they aren’t stored in your body and are eliminated when you pee. That means you must replace them every day. It also means that the vitamins can be washed away by overcleaning foods. To preserve B vitamins, try not to over scrub produce. Soaking is the best method for cleaning.

In addition, certain medical conditions can interfere with your ability to absorb B vitamins. For example, people with Hypothyroidism, Crohn’s disease, and Celiac disease are at risk for deficiencies. As well, alcoholics often have low levels. And as you age, your ability to absorb the particularly important vitamins B12 and B6 diminishes.

The Various B Vitamin Sources and Functions

What does each B vitamin do? Take a look at the benefits and possible sources for each member of the B-complex team..

B1 (Thiamine):
Vitamin B1 helps convert carbohydrates into energy. Without enough B1, we can feel tired and lethargic. This vitamin also plays a role in the flow of electrolytes in and out of our muscles, so low levels can lead to muscle weakness. B1 can also help regulate blood sugar.
Good sources of B1: Fortified grains, peas, beans, and sunflower seeds.

B2 (Riboflavin):
Vitamin B2 also helps us convert the things that we eat into energy. It also plays an important role in red blood cell production. Interestingly, one study singled out B2 as being particularly helpful in protecting against postpartum depression. Signs of B2 deficiency include dry, chapped lips.
Good sources of B2: Eggs, salmon, almonds, milk. Light can destroy B2, which is one reason why milk is often stored in opaque containers.

B3 (Niacin):
B3 contributes to our metabolic functions. It also helps regulate our nerves. B3 assists with the production of serotonin, so low levels can contribute to depression.
Good sources of B3: Meat, peanuts, fish, enriched grains.
Although over-consuming B3 won’t happen with food sources, overdoing niacin supplements can lead to flushed skin, nausea, and possible liver problems.

B5 (Pantothenic acid):
Research suggests that Vitamin B5 helps to regulate our adrenal glands. That means that maintaining good levels of pantothenic acid can help reduce stress.
Good sources of B5: Eggs, avocado, mushrooms

B6 (Pyridoxine):
Vitamin B6 plays an essential role in our metabolism. In fact, it’s involved in over 100 enzyme reactions. It also aids in the production of insulin and hemoglobin.
Because B6 helps to metabolize estrogen hormones, a deficiency can lead to more intense premenstrual symptoms.
Good sources of B6: Beans, nuts, leafy green vegetables

B7 (Biotin):
In addition to its role in converting fat and carbohydrates to energy, vitamin B7, more commonly called biotin or sometimes vitamin H, helps our hair shine and our skin glow. In fact, it gets the alternate name of vitamin H from the German words for hair and skin.
Good sources of B7: Egg yolks, liver, salmon, avocados and sweet potatoes.

Vitamin B9 (Folic acid):
Folic acid has an impressive list of tasks. It’s essential for hemoglobin production, as well as protein metabolism. It may also help reduce your risk of heart disease. Because folic acid can help repair damaged genes, it may even slow the aging process. Pregnant women should ensure they get enough folic acid, as it can reduce the risk of birth defects.
Good sources: spinach, lentils, fish, meats, citrus fruits.

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin):
Vitamin B12 is one of the key vitamins for converting food to energy. Together with B9, it works to produce red blood cells and help with iron absorption. It also helps to regulate the nervous system. Vitamin B12 plays such an important role in our cognitive function and moods that sometimes patients are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when they actually are short on B12.

Because vegans are often unable to get B12 through food sources, they can experience fatigue, nerve issues, and other symptoms of anemia unless they take B12 supplements.
Good sources of B12: Fish, meat, eggs, and nutritional yeast.

Make Sure You Have Adequate B Vitamin Levels!

As you can see, the B-complex vitamins are essential for good physical and emotional health. If you’re wondering about your B-vitamin levels, it’s best to review your symptoms and diet with a healthcare practitioner. The correct amounts of B vitamins that you should be consuming can depend on many different factors, like your age, gender, and other factors. Together, we can work on a plan to brighten your mood, increase your energy and ensure your body is functioning properly with the help of B vitamins.

Sources:
https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/vitamin-b
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2885294/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30704890
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19622819
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26799654
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19631047
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16815556

Hyper or Hypothyroidism: Often Misdiagnosed

Your thyroid is your body’s powerhouse. Your energy levels, metabolism, and heart rate are all controlled by this small, butterfly-shaped gland. Without enough thyroid hormone, your mitochondria aren’t able to produce the energy that your cells need for optimum performance. At the other end of the spectrum, your body can go into “overdrive” if it produces too much thyroid hormone.

Thyroid

Issues are More Common Than you Think

With so much at stake with regards to your overall health, maintaining balanced thyroid hormone levels is important. However, one in eight women produce either too much or not enough thyroid hormone. Females are at higher risk for thyroid issues than men, and the risk for both genders increases with age. In fact the stats for those with undiagnosed thyroid disease are shocking. Hormonal changes like pregnancy or menopause can also make women more vulnerable to thyroid problems. Of course, it’s also easy to attribute thyroid symptoms to age or menopause instead of getting to the root of the issue.

TSH, The Master Hormone

To understand how your thyroid can wreak havoc on your health, you need to understand how it functions. Your thyroid sits at the base of your neck, where it performs the vital task of secreting thyroid hormone which in turn triggers a cascade of other hormones and processes throughout the body. The key point about thyroid hormone is that your body is very sensitive to the amounts it receives. Any imbalances can have far reaching repercussions.

The amount of hormone your thyroid secretes is controlled by the amount of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) in your blood. In other words, TSH is the “master” hormone, and it’s produced in your pituitary gland.

Autoimmune Disorders Can Affect Your Thyroid

Further complicating thyroid health is the fact that your thyroid is vulnerable to autoimmune disorders. The autoimmune disorder Grave’s disease causes too much thyroid hormone to be produced. In contrast, Hashimoto’s disease causes your autoimmune system to attack your thyroid, slowing down thyroid hormone production.

Your thyroid can also become inflamed (this is called Thyroiditis), or develop nodules or small lumps which can disrupt your normal thyroid function.

Hypothyroidism: When Your Body Slows Down

If your thyroid isn’t producing enough thyroid hormone, your body slows down, resulting in a condition called hypothyroidism. The symptoms of hypothyroidism show up in many troublesome ways and include:

● Feeling cold all the time
● Dry skin
● Dry hair
● Muscle weakness
● Poor libido
● Memory problems
● Constipation
● Depression – thyroid can impact serotonin levels
● Weight gain
● Hoarseness
● Elevated cholesterol

Could You be Experiencing Hypothyroid Symptoms?

Despite this long list of issues, about 60 percent of people with hypothyroidism aren’t aware of it. One reason for this is that it’s easy to blame thyroid symptoms on a poor diet or growing older. As well, hypothyroid symptoms tend to develop slowly, and we often blame ourselves for weight gain.
If you experience any of the symptoms above, it’s a good idea to dig deep and figure out the root cause – including checking your thyroid! These uncomfortable symptoms do not have to be part of your “normal” day.

Hyperthyroidism: The Consequences of Too Much Thyroid Hormone

In contrast, when your body produces too much thyroid hormone, the condition is called hyperthyroidism. With hyperthyroidism, your body’s functions accelerate. Although this might sound appealing, many of the symptoms are debilitating. Some signs of hyperthyroidism include:

● Feeling hot all the time
● Anxiety
● A rapid heartbeat
● Weight loss
● Sweatiness
● Tremors
● Restlessness
● Missed periods

As with hypothyroidism, the symptoms of hyperthyroidism are often attributed to other issues, such as stress.

With So Many Symptoms, Why Are Thyroid Disorders Hard to Diagnose?

One challenging problem with identifying thyroid issues is that many conventional medical doctors run one test for thyroid, only testing the amount of TSH in your blood. However, testing one hormone often doesn’t give the complete picture of thyroid health. A more holistic approach which tests various hormone levels throughout the system can often yield more information – and more effective treatment.

Prevention: How can you Avoid Thyroid Problems?

Unfortunately, prevention isn’t always possible, since triggers can sometimes be genetic. Other risk factors include chronic stress and a history of autoimmune diseases. In addition, more research is pointing to the role of environmental factors in disrupting thyroid function.

Addressing the lifestyle factors which can cause inflammation of your immune system can do a lot to help stabilize thyroid hormones whatever the cause of your imbalance.

Strategies for protecting your thyroid health:

Reduce stress.

Since stress can interfere with thyroid function by slowing the production of TSH, addressing your stress levels is important. Exercise is a good way to both reduce stress and improve your metabolism, which can help balance the effects of hypothyroidism.

Cut your sugar intake.

Your thyroid is a crucial component of your endocrine (hormonal) system. Sugar is metabolized by another vital organ in the interconnected endocrine system, your pancreas. As a result, there is a complex relationship between diabetes and thyroid disease. Managing your glucose levels can help stabilize your thyroid.

Eat to protect your gut health.

Maintaining enough good bacteria in your digestive system can protect your immune system and reduce the risk of autoimmune problems.

Watch your iodine intake.

Iodine is essential for good thyroid function, but too much can also lead to problems. Fortified salt, seaweed, and some seafood all contain high levels of iodine.

Pay attention to how gluten affects you.

People with celiac disease are three times more likely to have a thyroid problem. Celiac disease can interfere with the absorption of nutrients such as iodine. If you have trouble digesting gluten, consider eliminating it.

Look for high-fiber foods

Especially if you’re hypothyroid. Having hypothyroidism can slow your digestive system and lead to constipation, so you want to focus on keeping things moving.

In general, the key is to focus on a whole-foods diet that will reduce inflammation. Avoiding artificial ingredients and regulating your blood sugar will reduce dietary stress and help maintain thyroid health.

I’m Concerned About My Thyroid. What’s the Next Step?

When it comes to resolving thyroid issues, early detection is the key. It’s also important to complete thorough testing- evaluating thyroid hormone levels can be complex and often left undiagnosed by the conventional healthcare system. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of thyroid issues – either hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism – give us a call! Thyroid issues do not have to affect your daily life.

Sources:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20030460
https://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/thyroid/how-manage-stress-if-you-have-autoimmune-thyroid-disease
https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/healthy-eating-for-a-healty-thyroid
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30060266
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16580033

Candida: Are You Experiencing Yeast Overgrowth?

White coating on your tongue, mysterious skin rashes, bloating, constipation and you’re always ready to eat something sweet? You could be suffering from Candida overgrowth.

What is Candida Albicans?

Candida albicans is the most common kind of yeast that co-exists with humans. Under optimal conditions, candida plays a valuable role in our digestive systems, since we need small amounts of candida in our mouths and throughout our digestive system in order to fully digest our food.

However, as anyone who’s ever baked bread knows, yeast likes to grow. (It is a fungus, after all.) When circumstances are ideal, our gut bacteria keeps intestinal yeast growth in check, creating a harmonious balance between bacteria and yeast.

The delicate balance between gut bacteria and yeast

This delicate balance is, however, easily disturbed. For example, we can lose beneficial bacteria after taking a round of antibiotics, or power candida’s growth by binging on sugar or alcohol. Estrogen dominance, birth control pills and stress can all multiply the amount of yeast in our systems. The result? Candida overgrowth.

Is systemic candida the same as a yeast infection?

Most people are familiar with the different kinds of yeast infections. A candida infection in the mouth is called oral thrush, and is marked by white, bumpy patches in the mouth and on the tongue, as well as difficulty swallowing. A vaginal yeast infection causes redness, swelling, and itchiness, and produces an unpleasant white discharge. These reactions are typically immediately noticeable – and very irritating.

In contrast, a systemic candida overgrowth can be much more subtle – although it’s impact may be more troublesome. When beneficial gut bacteria decrease and yeast multiplies, the overall effect on our bodies can be far-reaching.

How does systemic candida overgrowth work?

When candida grows unchecked, it can permeate into the lining of your intestine leading to “leaky gut” syndrome. As the name suggests, leaky gut syndrome causes undigested food, bacteria, and toxins to “leak” from your intestine into your bloodstream.

When the immune system is faced with these unknown invaders, it kicks into overdrive trying to neutralize the threat in any way it can. This can lead to a number of symptoms ranging from inflammation to autoimmune diseases.

Candida overgrowth is often overlooked or misdiagnosed because the symptoms vary so greatly. If you’re experiencing autoimmune symptoms, wondering why your thinking has been foggy recently, or trying to figure out troublesome digestive issues, it’s possible that a systemic candida overgrowth could be the underlying problem.

What are the symptoms of systemic candida?

1. Despite your best intentions, you have strong cravings for sugar and carbohydrates. (Candida wants to keep multiplying, so a taste of sugar will leave you wanting more!)

2. You feel itchy all over, especially, and sometimes embarrassingly, in the anal or vaginal area

3. Speaking of embarrassment, you suffer from toenail fungal infections or unexplained itchy foot rashes.

4. Your digestion feels out of whack, with a lot of gassiness and bloating.

5. You experience mood swings and frustration for no obvious reason – or you frequently feel anxious or depressed, even though you are doing your best to look after your emotional well-being.

6. Unexplained joint pain makes it hard to keep up with your exercise routine, and that lack of exercise is only worsening your other symptoms. You want to work out, but it’s not easy!

Diagnostic testing for gut bacteria and yeast

Boxed candida “kits” may be popular, but in reality overcoming candida overgrowth and restoring a healthy balance of yeast and gut bacteria can be very challenging. Our office can work with you to develop a program that’s tailored specifically for you – starting with a complete analysis and treatment plan.

Once we have a good picture of what’s really going on in your system, we can work on a plan to restore balance.

A Naturopathic approach to managing candida

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, as our naturoapthic approach means taking an in depth look at various aspects of your lifestyle.

Specialized candida diet

In general, the first step of treatment consists of dietary changes. (You knew that was coming, right?) Together we can work on a diet plan that works for you to starve out the candida.

Dietary changes should be realistic and manageable over the long term. After all, we want to create a sustainable solution, not a quick fix that may be too difficult to stick with.

Say goodbye to sugary sweets

To get candida under control, patients have greatest success by limiting all processed sweets from their diet. We also recommend cutting back on starchy carbohydrates. Low-sugar fruits such as berries are the best options for a sweet treat.

and alcohol

Eliminating all fermented or moldy foods and drinks, including alcohol, will help control candida growth. This includes well known fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kombucha, and also the less-obvious ones, like soy sauce or peanuts.

Add extra fibre

Adding more fibre to your diet and drinking lots of water (2-3 litres a day is a good goal) can help improve your intestinal “transit time” so nothing lingers too long in your system.

Carbs are allowed, in moderation

It’s important to note that carbohydrates aren’t necessarily completely forbidden on a candida diet. Although processed flour can contribute to a candida overgrowth and slower transit time, whole food carbohydrates such as rye or quinoa can add good fiber and minerals to your system. We can work together to look at your carb consumption and make any necessary adjustments.

The steps above can slow the growth of candida which may improve some of your symptoms, but as always tackling one side of the issue isn’t enough. You also want to increase the number of good bacteria in your gut. An effective way to do this is by consuming more probiotics or “healthy bacteria”. A high quality supplement of the right kind of probiotic for you is usually recommended, as they are able to rapidly populate the gut and restore balance.

Foods that kill candida

Research has found that many substances aid in the killing off of stubborn overgrowth. Studies have found turmeric to be effective as well as coconut oil, some essential oils and much more. In order to determine the right solution for your body, help by your naturopathic doctor is recommended. We can talk about the best treatment plan to eradicate this overgrowth and eliminate the problems candida overgrowth can cause in your system.

The effect of stress on candida

In addition to dietary changes, reducing your stress levels can help. When we’re stressed, our bodies produce more of the stress hormone cortisol, which over time will increase blood sugar.

Since candida feeds off sugar, stress can make us more vulnerable to candida overgrowth. It’s not always easy to lower stress levels – life often gets in the way. However, we can change the way we react to stress through science-backed stress reduction techniques such as meditation and yoga.

Candida overgrowth is one of the more common reasons people seek holistic care. The good news is that we are experts in treating digestive issues.

If you suspect that you may be experiencing an overgrowth of candida, give us a call at 416-234-1888. Together we can make an effective plan to get you back on track.

https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/index.html
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26709650
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17083732
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26723514
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17651080